Last week, Northampton County Council approved the contracts to begin construction of a new forensics center/morgue for the county.
Lamont McClure, county executive, said the estimated cost of the center should be about $11.7 million and it would go up on vacant land at Gracedale Nursing Home in Upper Nazareth Township.
For about 30 years, county councils have been lobbying for a new place to store bodies, he added.
Right now, the county stores bodies at local hospitals and uses a dilapidated farmhouse at Louise Moore Park in Lower Nazareth Township as a coroner’s office.
The remains of the departed are either kept at the small morgue at Gracedale or in whatever hospital space the coroner can find, he said. The specimens that are kept at the coroner’s office are in the nature of pathology, he said.
“The coroner has been using space in hospitals,” McClure said.
If hospitals have the space, they will make it available to the coroner, he added.
“Once we get the forensics center up and running, we won’t have that problem anymore,” McClure said.
The new forensics center would go up on the county-owned Gracedale campus next to the Northampton County 911 Center, he said.
The county hired Skanska, which has an office in Blue Bell, as the construction manager, and W2A Design Group of Allentown as the architect.
McClure said the project should take 10 months to complete and he would like to start construction shortly. The county is working to acquire permits, including those from the state Department of Environmental Protection.
“We’d like to be under roof before the bad weather comes,” McClure said.